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SAINT PAUL, Minnesota. May 13, 2023 – The teaching and learning conditions in Minnesota’s schools could dramatically improve with the passage of the E-12 education and labor omnibus bills that the Legislature is expected to send to Gov. Tim Walz next week.
“The education bill contains funding and policy that will be life-changing for students and educators – if the money is spent correctly at the district level,” said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. “The labor bill will make that more likely by empowering more educators to negotiate together and by expanding the topics of bargaining to include student-to-staff ratios to give educators and parents more guarantees that the money will go into the classrooms of Minnesota, where it will do the most good.”
The education bill passed by the conference committee Saturday would provide $2.2 billion in additional education funding in the next two-year budget, the largest-ever increase in state education spending. However, it does not include money for improving pensions for the majority of Minnesota teachers, who now have the third-highest normal retirement age in the nation. Education Minnesota continues to advocate for meaningful pension reform this session.
Highlights of the education omnibus bill include:
- An approximately 11 percent increase to the state’s financial support for E-12 public education in the first two-year budget and a 15 percent increase in the following two years.
- An increase to the state’s per-pupil formula of 4 percent in the first year of the budget and 2 percent in the second year of the next budget.
- An automatic inflationary increase to the state E-12 education budget of 2 percent to 3 percent each year starting in 2026.
- An unprecedented funding increase for school-based mental health and student support personnel, with $30 million annually in the first two years for nurses, counselors, workers, psychologists and other student support jobs. Dedicated state funding will increase to $60 million a year in future budgets.
- A one-time investment of $135 million to give hourly educators, such as education support professionals, access to unemployment insurance during the summer. This will provide these educators with the same economic security as other seasonal workers, including construction workers. Minnesota will be the first state in the nation to offer this benefit to its hourly educators on an ongoing basis.
- Millions of dollars in programs to increase the number of teachers of color and teachers licensed to work with students with special needs.
- Full-service community schools would receive a $7.5 million boost for two years and then $5 million per year in the future.
Highlights of the labor bill approved by the conference committee on Friday night.
- Expanding topics of bargaining to include staffing ratios in public schools. The bill doesn’t set a specific ratio of students to educators, but it does require a conversation during collective bargaining about how to meet students’ needs.
- Permitting teachers with Tier 1 licenses to join the same bargaining unit as teachers with higher-tier licenses, making it more likely that teachers with Tier 1 licenses will receive employer-paid professional development and higher compensation.
- Providing the same continuing contract and due process protections for early childhood and adult education teachers as K-12 teachers, which should lead to increased compensation and more professional respect for the teachers of districts’ youngest and oldest students.
“Thousands of educators worked for over a year to get where we are today,” Specht said. “From volunteering to support pro-education candidates, to voting in November, to meeting face-to-face with lawmakers this session about the real challenges facing Minnesota’s schools, Minnesota’s educators are doing our part to make this state the best state to raise a family. Now, in the last days of the 2023 session, we need the state of Minnesota to do a little more for its educators by passing meaningful pension reforms for teachers.”
The education and labor bills will be considered on the floors of the House and Senate early next week. If both bills pass as expected, they will be sent to the governor for final approval.
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.